The Martian, by Andy Weir, is a science fiction novel about astronaut Mark Watney, who finds himself stranded on Mars after a mission does not go according to plan. The story revolves around how Watney will need to spend several years on Mars before a rescue attempt can be made. Think Cast Away on Mars, with a lot more math and science.

The highly anticipated film will be released in early October, but here are three reasons why you shouldn’t wait for the story of Mark Watney’s adventure to hit the silver screen.

1. It’s an easy read.

Watney, the lone citizen of Mars, catalogs his day-to-day life via audio files and video recordings, giving the book a conversational tone. Luckily, Watney is full of personality: he’s smart, charismatic, and funny—even though he’s talking to himself, which makes him sound a little crazy. Watch the clip below to get an idea of how the book reads.

2. It’s accurate.

Einstein said, “If you can’t explain something simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” When reading The Martian, this quote kept ringing in my head. Yes, the story is about an astronaut on Mars, which we have yet to accomplish, but the amount of detail makes it read like a work of history and not science fiction. Weir, himself, has a background in computer science, and his father and mother were a particle scientist and an electrical engineer, respectively.

Weir heavily researched this story to ensure it was as accurate as possible. For instance, early in the book, Watney must figure out a way to make food, with potatoes as his only resource. He has to calculate how many he’ll need to survive, how many he can grow based on the ‘test’ potatoes that were brought, how much soil he’ll need to ‘create’ using a mix of dirt brought from Earth and Mars dust, and how much water he’ll need to generate for the crops. Weir not only makes this topic engaging, but after it’s described, you find yourself saying “Yes, by my calculations, I came to the same conclusion.”

3. It’s interesting.

When Top Gun came out in 1986, the U.S. Navy saw an increased interest in their flight program. Why? Because Top Gun made the Navy seem cool. People saw Tom Cruise flying fighter jets and said, “I want to do that.” I’m not sure how cool being stranded on Mars will seem after reading this book, but I can tell you that learning about all the technology NASA uses was fascinating.

NASA is excited about The Martian and has posted related articles on its website. NASA is also actively promoting the film, along with the cast, to encourage others to learn about the amazing things being done in space and technology.

Not only do you learn about the technology NASA hopes to have available in the near future, but you learn more about how the technology is being used now, for example, the various landers and robotics that are currently on Mars. NASA has seen the book as a celebration of the things it’s doing and hopes The Martian will help inspire a future generation of astronauts.

The film is rated PG-13 for some strong language, injury images, and brief nudity. Please note that there is strong language in the book.

Read these Learning Liftoff posts for additional educational movie suggestions and reviews.

Read more Learning Liftoff articles featuring NASA.


Featured Image – 20th Century Fox

 

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